I’ve always involved myself – and often brag about it – in reading something melancholic and sentimental that send me up in reading this novel. The back cover of my tattered mass market copy praised the novel for it’s mixture of the sad and funny and predicting for it to be the campus novel of the year (80’s) like Catcher in the Rye did in the 60’s and Catch-22 in the 70’s respectfully.
The story is about Charles for who has an unrequited love for a married woman, about his unemployed best friend Sam, his sick mother and his stepfather. I guess the novel was popular for its use of pop culture and popular media at that time that anyone who read’s it (at that time) can easily relate to which makes the novel much more entertaining. It’s a good thing I guess to be familiar at some of those, but since I don’t find them interesting (for I wasn’t born in the states let alone being an American) they just serves like icing on cake. What I found interesting about this novel is the author’s use of dialogue. Conversations which really don’t connect with each other which make you think of the humor behind it, much like real people talking which of course doesn’t really have to explain why they say what they said for those busybodies passing by. Charles has a stable job in my opinion but can’t go on with life because of his love for a woman he can never possess. His best friend is unemployed but can get through with life, if he just has the idea to get through. These two things make me think that whatever is you’re current situation in life, you just have to maintain your balance to be happy.
And one thing I don’t like about the book is the ending. Not that I don’t want it to end but I really am not sure if I have the right ending in my mind. Ann Beattie is popular for her short-stories before writing this highly praised first novel. Yes, I find the book sentimental but it doesn’t affect me that much (and to say I’m a cry-baby is that much). Hmm, okay maybe I don’t really get it. But there are scenes which still linger on my mind until now. So if you want to read something sad and at the same time funny that involves disenchanted youths, I guess you will like this one.
Opening Sentence: “Permettez-moi de vous présenter Sam McGuire,” Charles says.
Ending Sentence: It would be a waste of time just to stare at snowflakes, but she was counting, and even that might be a waste of time, but she was only counting the ones that were just alike.